Beware of Mr. Baker
Channel surfing one night, I came across Eric Clapton being interviewed by someone. I paused long enough to get sucked into the rest of Beware of Mr. Baker. I didn’t even think of turning the channel – I was captured. Now granted, it was like not being able to look away from a crash, but I had to see what happened next.
I would have never proactively set aside time to watch the 92-minute documentary on drummer Ginger Baker, but once it was in front of me, I couldn’t help myself. The last time I had this particular blend of morbid fascination was during a bout of insomnia while traveling on business and watching consecutive episodes of Flava of Love in the wee hours of the morning in my hotel room. But it’s not a fair comparison – because I don’t think anyone has accused Flave of being a genius, while contemporaries of Ginger Baker were, unreservedly, speaking of his breath-taking talent in spite of enduring the brunt of numerous ghastly episodes of Baker’s bad (if not appalling) behavior.
There were several jaw-dropping moments for me, but the details around Baker abandoning his (first) family were stunning. Leaving his wife for a younger woman doesn’t distinguish Baker. Leaving his wife for a younger woman who was his teenage daughter’s best friend? Yes. He did.
So imagine this young girl’s reaction when her rock star husband brings her to an Italian mountain top hovel with no plumbing, and in some parts of the house, no walls or roof – and they live together in near isolation and atrocious hygienic conditions? Surprisingly, she leaves him.
It’s interesting how the life of a song or album can make a band seem more long-lived than it really is/was. Cream was only together for about two years. Yet, when you think of Cream – Baker, Bruce and Clapton have been linked for almost 50 years – but as Clapton points out in his interview, he didn’t spend that much time with Ginger Bruce since then, so how well can he really know him, how much can he really reveal about the man other than his drumming?
Beware of Mr. Baker is airing on Showtime. http://www.sho.com/sho/movies/titles/3384749/beware-of-mr-baker#/index
The documentary home page is http://bewareofmrbaker.com/ and has a link to a nice Rolling Stone article in .pdf format.
Good review by Mark Kermode:
Buy from Amazon: Beware of Mr. Baker